Binocular leads Champion field

Binocular could be part of the largest field for the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle in 18 years with Nicky Henderson’s hot favourite one of 24 horses declared for Tuesday’s main event.

Binocular could be part of the largest field for the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle in 18 years with Nicky Henderson’s hot favourite one of 24 horses declared for Tuesday’s main event.

Should all line up, it will equal the number involved when Morley Street triumphed in 1991 but with about 10mm of rain forecast by the start of the meeting, Nicky Henderson’s charge is expected to drift in the market.

With Sentry Duty and Punjabi also engaged for the stable, Henderson walked the course on Sunday and appeared happy enough, as did Alan King, trainer of last year’s winner Katchit.

The ground was eased officially to good to soft all over at the end of the afternoon with 3mm precipitation reported, which is prompting betting exchange Betfair to believe Binocular could be much bigger on the day.

Spokesman Tony Calvin said: “It seems that rival connections aren’t scared of taking on Binocular, and our layers agree.

“Binocular may be the form choice and one of the few potential superstars in the field.

“But likely soft ground and a massive field will make it a gruelling stamina test, and he has to lug 11lb more up the hill than last year.

“He has drifted out to 15-8 and I believe a Betfair SP of 9-4 or bigger is possible on Tuesday, should the predicted rain arrive at the track.”

Kate Miller of William Hill added: “The tide is definitely beginning to change for Binocular, with punters looking elsewhere for value as the heavens open.

“The old warrior Brave Inca is one of the few in the field who will genuinely enjoy soft conditions and he will bring the house down if regaining his 2006 crown.”

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